REVIEW: Supernatural Showcase

Supernatural Showcase
Gar Shanley and Cathal Dougan

Review by Ciaran Flanagan

Gar Shanley and Cathal Dougan are two very sick men, and I mean this in the nicest possible way. The team that brought us the top-notch comic satire of Superhero Showcase have teamed up once more to bring us the paranormally-themed Supernatural Showcase, another faux anthology collection from the fine folks at the fictional Windell Comics. And while Superhero Showcase was straight up parody, its successor attempts to go in some different (and more interesting) directions.
The visuals are presented in stark black and white, which adds to the air of surrealism. Dougan’s artwork, with its shades of LA fanzine artist Raymond Pettibon, is perfect for the (intentional) atmosphere of feeling slightly uncomfortable but not really understanding why. There is a move away from simple parody to the out-and-out grotesque which is delineated clearly in the superb double centre spread (in which we the ever present reader are entreated to colour).
There are several genuinely very funny strips, with “Ghosts! Monsters! Aliens! Robots!” causing me to HOWL with laughter. It’s also fair to say that Supernatural Showcase is not for everyone. I showed it to a couple of like-minded individuals who are very much part of the spandex set , who could barely get past the lack of colour—never mind the David Lynchish black humour. Much like a lot of the sketches in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer (Masterchef) and The League of Gentlemen (Papa Lazaru) it seems that the more surreal elements could be off-putting to some readers. There are also some strips that are unsettling on a whole new level. In particular “Salvos Saturday Car” is one of the most genuinely disturbing things I have ever encountered in any medium. The story of a bizarre kids TV show that the country lives in fear of, it should resonate very strongly with anyone who ever lived ( and suffered ) through an episode of either Fortycoats or Pajos Junk Box (a programme in itself so bizarre, that I am convinced that I dreamed the whole thing up. A knacker punk rat presenting the Muppet Babies from inside a washing machine crate? No sane or rational mind could come up with that surely?)

Next up on RTE1 ….Kenny Live.

Having said all that, this is well written and drawn , pleasingly reminiscent of one of Marvels old collected comics thanks to its glossy cover and it’s fair to say that if you like a bit of David Cronenberg, or you got a kick out of old horror strips like The Thirteenth Floor, you’ll find yourself in safe hands here. Well, I say safe…[1]
[1]You should read that last sentence in a Garth Marenghi voice.

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Supernatural Showcase can be purchased from WWW.WINDELLCOMICS.COM or Forbidden Planet, Dublin

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